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Coco Gauff wins WTA clay-court debut in Rome; Musetti shocks Wawrinka
Playing her first-ever tour-level match on clay, American teenager Coco Gauff outdid Ons Jabeur in straight sets. Denis Shapovalov, Andrey Rublev and Garbine Muguruza were also among the winners on Tuesday.
Published Sep 15, 2020
After falling to former semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova in one of the toughest first-round draws of the US Open, Coco Gauff was determined to get back on the court. “Right now my plan is just to play as many tournaments as I can, to get matches under my belt,” she said after that loss two weeks ago.
On Tuesday, Gauff got back on the winning track, and in very impressive fashion.
The 16-year-old American bounced back from a 4-2 deficit in the first set to take out Ons Jabeur, one of the most in-form players on tour this year, winning 10 of the next 13 games to advance, 6-4, 6-3.
The only other time the two met, in Lexington just a few weeks before the US Open, Gauff also rebounded after a slow start against the Tunisian, rallying from 6-4, 4-2 down to prevail, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“I’m definitely happy to get a win today, especially after a couple of tough losses back in New York. But I’m just happy to be playing,” Gauff said afterwards. “I think Ons played great today. She’s a tricky player—she definitely changes the ball a little bit—so I knew it was going to be tough.
"To get a win over her on clay is really good.”
Tuesday’s match was actually Gauff’s first-ever tour-level match on clay—she had played qualifying at Roland Garros last year, but this week is her first main draw of a WTA event on the surface.
Gauff and Jabeur are both French Open junior champions, Gauff in 2018 and Jabeur in 2011.
Awaiting Gauff in the second round is No. 9 seed and 2016 French Open women’s champion Garbine Muguruza, who hit 22 winners to 16 unforced errors to beat Sloane Stephens at night, 6-3, 6-3.
The two will be playing each other for the first time.
No. 12 seed Marketa Vondrousova and No. 14 seed Anett Kontaveit were also among the winners, but the other women's seed in action, Angelique Kerber, wasn’t so lucky. The No. 15-seeded German, who’s won all of the majors except Roland Garros, fell to Katerina Siniakova in 69 minutes, 6-3, 6-1.
Among the men's winners on Tuesday were a pair of players who were fresh off reaching the US Open quarterfinals: Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov. Rublev, who just reached a new career-high ranking of No. 12 this week and is the No. 9 seed here, beat Argentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis, 6-4, 6-4, while Shapovalov, who was the first Canadian man ever to reach the last eight at the US Open and is the No. 12 seed here, moved comfortably past another Argentine, Guido Pella, 6-2, 6-3.
And another Canadian, No. 13 seed Milos Raonic, outdid Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
The biggest surprise of the day came in the last match of the day, as 18-year-old, No. 249-ranked Italian qualifier Lorenzo Musetti stunned No. 10 seed Stan Wawrinka, 6-0, 7-6 (2). Musetti, a former No. 1 in the juniors and the 2019 Australian Open boys' champion, scored his first tour-level win.
Musetti was the eighth Italian to reach the round of 32 in Rome, which is the most to go that far at this tournament in the Open Era. The previous record was seven, which happened in 1971 and 1972.